About a month ago, Leslie Price wrote in Time Out about the burgeoning scene south of Delancey, BelDel, and its additions, including Clandestino Cafe & Bar. She wrote that it would be opening in early February, so we checked it out last night (two days into March, because we admit to getting a little jaded about these things). Our timing was good -- we watched as liquors were still being stocked as we walked in.

The space is homey, warm and unfussy with refurbished stools by proprietress Laura Travers, an infectiously warm ex-pat. Behind a well-worn bar and under soft lighting, chalkboard signs abound. The wines are charted by dry to sweet (white, choices from $7-9), light to full-bodied (red, from $6-9) and province, and the beers by size (14-20oz, all $5 or $6). Further back is another sign with provincal offerings -- ham, pate, brie with fresh sourdough bread that tastes like Balthazar's. All the cafe choices are priced before tax so our brie and bread was $2.77 (read: $3), another choice $6.44 ( $7). It's an eccentric choice but one that only gets easier to appreciate after the first drink that makes math, you know, hard.

Clandestino Cafe & Bar
35 Canal, between Ludlow and Essex Streets
(212) 475-5505